A Word for Edo Politicians, By Dele Agekameh
In the current race for the acquisition of political power in Edo State, the overall interests of the people the contenders are seeking to govern, should be of paramount importance as no credible election can take place in an atmosphere riddled with confusion and violence.
In recent times, politics in Edo State has witnessed the most strident and bilious politicking in the state’s history. This has come with accompanying frightful potentials for exacerbating the already taut and fragile security situation in the State, especially in an election year, to choose who will take over from Adams Oshiomhole on November 12, 2016.
We have been inundated with stories of the governor accusing Pius Odubu, his deputy, of recruiting a team of native doctors to kill him through spiritual means. The deputy himself allegedly escaped assassination recently when he and his entourage were attacked with guns, cudgels etc, at an interactive meeting with prospective delegates in Auchi, within the governor’s senatorial district. Not only this. The relatively-peaceful Edo State House of Assembly witnessed a sudden “volcanic eruption” on May 3, 2016 as the Speaker, Victor Edoror was coyly replaced with Elizabeth Ativie, who is believed to be a crony of Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
These incidents are a fallout from the camps of those members of the political class who have been fanning the embers of mutual mistrust, hatred and ethnic chauvinism with pre-determined focus to achieve their aims. It is quite obvious that the lies, misconceptions and deliberate misinformation often planted by the political class, through unguarded and inciting utterances and actions, usually thrive because of political apathy and the poverty level of a large percentage of the electorate.
Truly, in an election year like this, the politics of relevance determines what you get from the unfathomable pool called the “dividends of democracy”. Therefore, in playing the game of the survival of the fittest, simple rules of decency, fair play, tact and facts are treated with uncommon levity and brazen insouciance. In most circumstances, the prevailing spirit is “All is fair in war”, and in others, conventionally-held rules of engagement are turned upside down to oil and authenticate deliberate falsehoods to strengthen the “armoury” of the beneficiary. This has been exemplified by the widely-condemned assassination attempt on the deputy governor, which the governor, in a fit of executive comedy, tagged a lie and a fabrication as, according to him, nothing like that happened.
It is astonishing to see that one defining factor that has crept into the politics of Edo State is the violent streak being displayed by party supporters at the low and the high segments of the two contending political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It is getting increasingly clear that their operating mantra now revolves around the Machiavellian doctrine of the “end justifies the means”. This dangerous importation has almost erased the hitherto peaceful and harmonious nature of the political process and politicking in the state. And doing this has elevated politicking in the state to incidents of assassinations and assassination attempts, ballot-box snatching and destruction, muggings, arson, cultic oppression, financial inducements, etc.
In the actual sense, politics and politicians in Edo State are as variegated as those on the national platform, even though the hues may not be as diverse as in the former. They are, in fact and essence, a microcosm of both the practices and vagaries of the power game in the true Nigerian context and application. They are inseparable: One sets the stage for the acquisition of the power lever, while the other is the human factor that drives (and reaps from) the quest for it.
From the advent of democracy on May 29, 1999, the PDP maintained its dominance over the political affairs of the State for years until its popularity and acceptance nose-dived and the party was consequently voted out of power. In losing the mandate, the failing party members did so with selfish guile, angst and mutual distrust as the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) coasted home to victory. Political watchers had thought that past political experiences that culminated in the loss of power in the state by the PDP will help to weld the cracks and cement the crevices of interests and shades of opinion into a workable whole in both the APC and the PDP, but recent events have proved the expectations wrong.
…neither sustainable development nor the delivery of dividends of democracy can take place in an environment of mutual distrust, coven-like intrigues, unending subterfuge, tribal and ethnic considerations etc. The use of uncouth and offensive language laden with half-truths and barefaced lies as the wares of politicking, is often a prelude to violent engagements on the political terrain – a situation that may not benefit anyone in the long run.
At certain critical periods such as primaries, local, state and national elections, the dreams of the founding fathers of both the ruling and opposition party in the state, have turned into near-interminable incubus interspersed with occasional cohesiveness in the affairs of the two major parties. Like in all human aggregations, the coalition of persons, ideas and intentions that metamorphosed into the PDP and the APC included unrepentant Fifth Columnists whose hidden agenda were masked by deliberate show of platonic camaraderie at the beginning of their political hibernation. They barely concealed the veiled animus that they harbour when things are in their favour. They were always ready to jump ship for greener political pastures the moment their parties begin to falter.
The fact is that politics involves interests, ideas and persons competing for power, position and influence. It is virtually impossible to satisfy the aspirations of everyone in contention. It is even more so for a vibrant ruling party like the APC and an equally well-entrenched opposition like the PDP. The two parties are endowed with a teeming population of qualified, skilled, educated and intelligent members angling for the few elective and appointive positions available.
The peculiarities of Edo State politics and corporate governance, at all levels, revolves around (a) those who have a job to do, (b) those who covet that job and want to possess it by all means, (c) those who plan and scheme to stall or spoil that job, albeit, at all costs, (d) those who care about the job being done well, and (e) those for whom anything goes as far as they benefit from it.
As the PDP engages its eighth year of being in the opposition in Edo State, its leadership and followership should do some introspection and find out where the initial amity, understanding and common purpose derailed – a fact that has caused it a long stint in the political wilderness. Surprisingly too, the APC, the ruling party, is not fairing any better.
In its very pristine form, the beauty of politics is the all-important allure, ambience and aura of power. In the Edo context, there is the added tendency for some of those wielding power to use it to accumulate economic capital for self, dependants and cronies. In the light of the foregoing, we must situate the desperate and precipitate activities, actions and utterances of some sections of politicians across the political spectrum, who indulge in wanton disregard for constituted authority by engaging in rebellious acts designed to instigate other sections of the society against one another. This cadre of politicians believe that the art of politicking is another dimension of war that must be fought with uncommon vehemence, to achieve the primary aim of acquiring power and all its “appurtenances” that will necessarily follow.
Of course, neither sustainable development nor the delivery of dividends of democracy can take place in an environment of mutual distrust, coven-like intrigues, unending subterfuge, tribal and ethnic considerations etc. The use of uncouth and offensive language laden with half-truths and barefaced lies as the wares of politicking, is often a prelude to violent engagements on the political terrain – a situation that may not benefit anyone in the long run. Therefore, the leaders of the two major political groupings (at all levels) should encourage the party administrators to put in place enduring conflict resolution mechanisms that will ensure that all aggrieved parties find solace and satisfaction therein, rather than resorting to self-help.
In the current race for the acquisition of political power in Edo State, the overall interests of the people the contenders are seeking to govern should be of paramount importance as no credible election can take place in an atmosphere riddled with confusion and violence.
For comments SMS (only) to: 08058354382